To describe the current dating land scape as confusing would be a description generous in civility. We are in the age of questioning everything from whether pineapple should go on pizza to whether our partner was born in the gender they are presenting. This transitional phase our society is going through is certainly a mark of progression. However, social change often leaves in its path befuddled individuals straddling between a world they were raised in and a world they are living in. Before the advent of super computers that could fit into one’s pocket, one would typically speak to one’s parents or older members of one’s community to get advice.
But it’s no secret that in the black community many of our immediate elders are individuals whose actions we would rather not imitate and whose advice appears more detrimental to our growth rather than helpful. Now, many of today’s young adults turn to Google and YouTube for answers. Scouring the internet for dating advice isn’t an inherently poor idea. There are lots of writers, social commentators, and forums for getting honest, informed, and well delivered advice on finding love. However, I’m seeing a growing trend that concerns me and that is women ages 18-24 making poor attempts to practice advice that’s mostly meant for women ages 25 and older. This is particularly true for topics in hypergamy.
Hypergamy is a dating mindset in which a person seeks to marry an individual that is of a higher social standing than them. It’s traditionally a woman’s way of partnering up with someone who does better than her financially so that she can have access to better resources for her and her children. There is nothing wrong with this style of dating and it is a mindset long overdue for black women to practice en masse. Far too many of us have been raised in broken homes or watched our mothers do all the cooking, cleaning, childcare, and still work a 9 to 5, while our fathers came and went as they pleased. If you even had a father.
But it’s important that young women develop themselves before demanding that their 20-year-old boyfriend commit to them for life. It’s also important that as young women, you explore the dating scene before committing to that 37-year-old CEO who wants to scoop you off into the sunset before you can legally drink alcohol or haven’t even lived long enough. Or worse, shacking up with the 30-year-old McDonalds worker because he has more money and assets than you’ve ever seen, but your lack in foresight blinds you to the fact that by the time you’re his age you could be doing twice as good as him. So, with this article I'm hoping to part with you some advice on how to explore the modern dating world, develop as a human being, and still get the high-level relationship you’re hoping for in the end.
Guard Your Womb Like It’s Your Life
Dating is difficult, and few things make the dating scene a more complicated space than bringing a child into the mix. Starting a family when you’re young is risky behavior and the odds of you remaining with the child's father are extremely slim. This is even true for more mature couples. The American Psychological Association did a study in which they examined the effect of a first child on over 200 couples.
The study revealed that the transition to parenthood for these couples resulted in a “sudden deterioration” of their relationships. The control group without children experienced a gradual deterioration of their relationships. In other words, children will not make a relationship, but they often are the breaking point in relationships. And once you’ve separated from your partner, dating while co-parenting or as is most often the case, a single mom, increases your difficulties of success in the dating world. Having a child does not decrease your value as a human being, but it does negatively impact your chances in the dating up market.
Women who have children at a young age are less likely to attain a higher education, and this often spells out being kept out of higher paying jobs where high caliber men are most likely to be. Your young adult years are for nurturing, supporting, and making oneself skilled. Having a kid requires that you pour all your attention and focus into the child which leaves very little room for you to develop yourself. There is a plethora of social propaganda that pushes this narrative that childbirth and being a mom is one of the highest achievements a woman can make and that it is the next step every girl must take at some point take in her life.
If you desire to be a mother this is great! There are some women who would describe having a kid young as one of the best things that happened to them. It assisted in them developing to a mature young woman however, reality is that everything is easier when kids aren’t in the mix. Guard your womb because your life will never be the same after having a kid and it’s often for the worst if you haven’t properly vetted you partner. And acquiring skills in properly vetting men comes with experience. Which leads me to my next bit of advice.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up for Dating That Artist, Rapper, or Otherwise Bummy Dude
It is said that experience is the greatest teacher and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to learning about what kinds of people you wish to share your life with. I know that we’ve all been instructed to steer clear of men of no means and the women telling you to run the other direction from bummy guys are absolutely right. But when you’re young it can seem that these are the only kinds of men around you. College breaks everyone’s banks who aren’t filthy rich. And if he’s not in college I say give it a conditional shot. The condition is: do not commit to men that do not have a regular source of income.
It is said that some lessons are better learned by listening but there is nothing more disillusioning than having a jobless, unmotivated, child of a boy as your man. You might feel a connection to the guitarist in your area who keeps writing poems for you, but struggle love will soon crush those rose-tinted frames that miraculously appear on the bridge of your nose every time you’re around him. His perpetual state of broke-ness will eventually become a major turn off and you’ll realize that mom/auntie was right: love doesn’t pay the bills. In fact, studies have shown that finances are one of the major causes for divorce.
But if you find yourself interested in a nice young man whose biggest red flag is that he’s financially challenged, you aren’t necessarily selling yourself short. There are many men, particularly those in college or picking up a trade, who will be worth the investment of your time. I’d also like to add that while it’s ok to date guys with potential it is not ok to fully commit to potential. And dating up doesn’t always translate to dating a man that is making more money than you, especially while you’re still a young woman yourself.
Now is the time to try, fail, then try again at being an emotionally mature adult. Now is the time to build up an understanding of behaviors you will or won’t tolerate. We all have a list of things we think we want in a partner and then upon attaining a partner with those traits we find that we were mistaken. There are many women who may try to convince you that if you can't date an established man then you would be better off refraining from dating at all. For a mature woman who’s already self-established and has learned how to be in a relationship with another person, this is ideal.
However, dating can be a character-building experience, and no one develops in a vacuum. No matter how often it is that men might try to shout it down on the internet and no matter how often the woman who feels broken from her past dating choices might try to convince you--you aren’t a depreciating item. While dating an established man should be your end goal, you aren’t making poor choices by dating a man who isn’t there yet either. Have fun. Not every relationship you entertain must have marriage as the end goal.
Don’t Buy In to the Fear Mongering
There are many tactics society likes to deploy on young women in order to scare them away from fully developing into well rounded women. The more naïve you are the easier it becomes to control you. Some of these tactics include but are not limited to discussions on fertility and ageing, discussions on purity, and discussions about the bleak dating market. I am not one for giving false, feel-good advice and so I’d like to stress that you do not have cheap nor freely accessible options for delaying the window of time you have for having a kid. In addition, the longer you wait the higher the chances of a child being born with physical or developmental birth defects. (This is also true for men over 35).
Despite this, making any decision, especially one like who you’ll spend the rest of your life with and who you’ll share your womb with, should not be made from a place of fear. Choices made from fear and desperation often result in decisions we regret later in life. I don't know the numbers on this, but I don’t think I need to quote a statistic when I say that too many people have children out of curiosity or social conditioning rather than them having the implicit desire to raise a human being. Don’t have kids in order to keep a man, prove that you’re desirable, because the clock is ticking, and not because you love the guy you’re with. You should only take that next step in life because you explicitly want to raise another human being.
You will also want to avoid men and women who try to use measures of “purity” in order to control your behavior. There are too many young women who stay in abusive relationships or who stick with a single lame man just because they’re afraid of their “body count” rising. You do not want to be on the radar of a man who pays too close attention to your sexual history. These men are very insecure, and majority turn out to be abusive. (They also tend to have a small you-know-what. Or at least that’s been the case in my life.) It’s not easy, but this is the stage in your life where you should be learning how to stop allowing society to dictate how you will live your life.
I am not advocating for promiscuity either. Sex can result in your death if you are not careful. Stop thinking in binary. Just because you shouldn’t let society tell you to remain ignorant about your body doesn't mean that you need to go off the rails. Very few people want a promiscuous partner, but if the guy you’re seeing wants you to be ignorant of your body: Run. For. The. Hills. While you’re running make sure you don’t stop for the men and women that will try to convince you that you can’t do better than what you may have known all your life. Do not listen to the fear mongering. The guys you’re meeting now in your life are not the best you can do. The earth is overburdened with humans and so are your options. Explore them. This is especially so if you use the time you have now to develop yourself.
Rise Into Your Crown
We’ve all heard the old adage that opposites attract, but when dating this idea is far more misleading than it is true. If you want to attract high caliber men, it helps to be a high caliber woman. Your late teens and early twenties are the perfect time for becoming that woman. This next part is going to be a bit of unpopular advice, but it is the truth. Many young women are taught that they are inherently perfect and inherently deserving of the finest things life has to offer. Because of this many women reject this idea that they need to compete against other women for a partner or do anything to improve upon themselves, but you do.
Every girl is a goddess but if you don’t nurture your gifts, you’re cutting your potential short. Read often and about all sorts of topics. Get a degree or skill in a field that will grant you independence. Exercise regularly and eat your green leafy vegetables. Drink excessive amounts of water. If you don’t you might not rise high enough to reach the crown above you. Life has an interesting way of helping those who help themselves so don’t stagnate while waiting for Mr. Right to appear. Spend this time working towards being the best possible version of yourself. You’ll thank yourself later in the years. And just because a woman is your competition it doesn’t make her your enemy.
Many of these older women mean well when they invite you into their suitor discussions. However, when you’re invited into these spaces take on more of a spectator role and note their advice. But hold off on practicing what they’ve preached. To be looking for a husband before you’ve even finished developing is setting yourself up for failure. Statistics show that “if you’re 24 or younger you’re twice as likely to get divorced”. That is in comparison to the more realistic 30-40% national average of divorce rates rather than the inflated 50% average we commonly hear reported.
But to say that 50-60% of marriages end in divorce is not an exaggeration when looking at the age range of those 18-24. Enjoy your young womanhood responsibly and opportunity will be beckoning at your doors, but understand that no one is entitled to having a partner. You can do everything "right" and still end up alone and that's ok. The takeaway here is that there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting exactly what you want from life and dating. That is the key to practicing hypergamy as a young woman: Strategic dating and development.
About the Author
Lilith is a new blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn't at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the L.A. food scene or attending workshops in creative writing.